Child Stars: We Love Them, and When They Screw Up We Laugh

Child stars. All audiences love to go to movies and say “Aaaawwwwww.” And then when the pressure of fame leads to these kids to resort to crack, we love to gossip about them later. I think child stars are an interesting topic. Young children who can act are in high demand in Hollywood, so these cute faces get paid more than Julia Roberts (you know, before she started having to deny her aging). And I believe that girl actresses tend to have longer careers than boys, because as soon as the boys start squeaking, they have lost their charm. So anyway, here are some famous child stars through the ages. Enjoy (unless you are a pedophile. Well, then you’ll really enjoy it, but please don’t).

I have them in three categories. Cutie Phase is when we’re still going “awwwww” at them. The Ambiguous Phase is that they’ve gotten too old for the Cutie Phase but they haven’t seemed to resort to the Crack Phase. The Crack Phase describes once child stars who have declined into notirioty. Drugs, sex, that whole shebang.

Freddie Highmore: Ambiguous Phase

Allison’s Favorite Film: Finding Neverland (but August Rush is awesome too)

I have to say, I think this once little British (I mean that he was once little, not that he’s no longer British) kid was one of my favorite boy actors. He’s sprung up since his August Rush days, and honestly he still looks awkwardly adorable. Apparently however, Freddie does not plan to pursue acting as an adult. Probably a mature decision, but I kind of wanted to read about him doing wild things as an adult actor, like maybe seeking solace with bears after not getting a part in Cheers. Kuddos to those who know what I’m talking about.

Dakota Fanning: Ambiguous Phase

Allison’s Favorite Movie: Man on Fire

I think pretty much everyone in the world knows who I’m talking about. This blue-eyed beauty took the world by storm and quickly became one of the highest paid actresses of all time. While for the most part I have enjoyed her performances, I do have to question her latest move choices. Twilight? And Push? What was this girl thinking? However, she isn’t much of a girl anymore. She is only four years younger than myself, a big 17. Right now she’s attending college at NYU, so then we shall see if Dakota will return to acting.

Elle Fanning: Cutie Phase

Allison’s Favorite Movie: Phoebe in Wonderland

Though not as well known yet as her sister, based on the promise I have seen in her work, I think there might be a chance of little Elle eclipsing Dakota. In fact, while Elle might still be a bit more obscure, she has been in almost as many big name films as her sister, including Babel, and the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I am really looking forward to see Elle’s future in film.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen: Crack Phase

Favorite Movie: please don’t make me choose

Speaking of sisterly actresses, we all knew this was coming. The twins everybody loves to hate. I actually haven’t heard much Olsen drama in the last few years, so maybe they have finally managed to fade into obscurity. That, or they just became so anorexic that they vanished entirely with a puff of putrid stink. Oh, and remember when they started demanding that they be treated separately in film, and yet they have THE SAME EXACT ACTING STYLE? Yeah, ain’t gonna work girls.

Lindsay Lohan: Crack Phase

Allison’s Favorite Movie: Mean Girls

Speaking of Anorexia. After mentioning the Olsen twins you know Lindsay was not far behind. Lindsay Lohan is notorious for having one of the most laughable career enders in the history of film. Mean Girls was a hit, but after it she starred in a made for TV movie on ABC family (which is of course so well known for high quality) in which she pretends to be pregnant. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Since then, all I know that she’s done in Hollywood are a few unrecognized TV cameos. As a poster girl for the effects of heroin, I don’t think anyone was sad to see her go. What has had her in the public eye most recently was her plastic surgery controversy. But I’m not going to judge her for that. What ever you think you can do to make yourself not look like a skeleton.

Abigail Breslin: At the end of her Cutie Phase, almost ambiguous

Allison’s Favorite Movie: Little Miss Sunshine

Another powerhouse of potential, this now teenage girl can really make things happen on screen. And unlike the Fanning sisters, who have such ethereal appearances on their sides, Breslin is quite plain in reality. The fact that she is able to be just as successful shows how talented she is. I eagerly await to see more from her.

All the Harry Potter Kids: Ambiguous Phase

I mean of course before they started aging much faster than the films were being made. While I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan, I tip my hat to the filmmakers for their achievement in creating such a successful movie while using a handful of pubescent preteens. I can only imagine all the angst that must have been on those sets. Clouds of Axe and hormones, never a good combination. The only actor that I am aware of who is continuing a career in show business in Daniel Radcliffe, but it has for the most part been in Broadway rather than film.

Shirley Temple: As such a film icon, I will not insult her by giving her a label

There is just no way not to do a list of child stars and not include Shirley Temple. Even thinking about doing so is movie heresy. She is described by IMBD as possibly the most successful child star of all time. She has a freakin’ drink named after her for Christ sake. Sadly, I cannot write much about her, as I have somehow never seen her in a film. This is certainly a grievous error than I must correct as soon as possible. Any opinions of which ones I start with would be appreciated.

Obviously there are more child stars than I featured here. But please let me know if you think I completely neglected someone that belongs. Keep in mind that since this is a movie blog I would only like to feature child stars in films, so no complaining about me leaving out Jaleel White or Keenan and Kel. You have been warned.

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Phoebe in Wonderland: Who Needs Dakota Fanning?

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Can someone explain to me how I never heard about this film? The only reason I watched it is because I stumbled upon it while browsing through NetFlix. I just don’t understand how no one knows about it, because it’s so good.

Phoebe in Wonderland, an independent film released in 2009 and directed by Daniel Barnz follows the story of 9 year old Phoebe (Elle Fanning). You might recognize this actress’s stunning blue eyes from her older sister Dakota Fanning. Phoebe suffers from Tourrette syndrome. Her struggles dealing with her disease in both public and private settings are mirrored with Alice’s experiences in Wonderland, especially once Phoebe is cast as her in a school production of Alice and Wonderland and Phoebe starts getting advice from imaginary Lewis Carroll characters.

This movie really spoke to me. I myself have a disability that interferes with my life, so I can really sympathize with Phoebe’s character who is trying so desperately to be a good girl.

But there is much more to this movie than just tear-jerking moments. A lot of it is also extremely smart and witty. Two examples come to mind. Towards the opening of the film, Phoebe’s teachers are endlessly droning on about rules in class using the model of “Good Girl Jenny.” A teacher asks to the class “What does Good Girl Jenny do?” Phoebe mumbles “She dies a slow and painful death.” And then in probably my favorite scene, when rehearsals start for the play, there is a lot of controversy over a boy getting the part of the Queen of Hearts. Naturally he gets teased. One girl snarls at him “Homo!” He replies “Homo got the part!”

This movie was also so imaginative in many different ways. Not only is the cinematography beautiful, but the story goes in so many creative directions. Surprisingly, Phoebe’s character isn’t just compared to Alice, but also briefly to the Swan from Swan Lake. Which is very inspired. It takes the idea that Phoebe is falling through the rabbit hole much further and makes it somewhat positive: yes, Phoebe’s different, but she’s beautifully different and undergoing a remarkable transformation just like the swan turning into a princess (who later kills herself when her prince falls for the black queen, but anyway…).

Okay, I will stop preaching. But if you like creative, innovative film making, see this movie. I loved it with all my heart, and I gladly give it a 10.